A Ferry Connected Europe
I am not a big fan of flying and when I can - I avoid it. Getting to the airport, waiting for the actual flight, spending 8£ on a shit sandwich… not loving it. Doesn’t help when I’m also quite scared to fly. I really enjoy road trips and train rides, they are so much fun and it’s easy to feel very relaxed. But then, I started to think of other ways to travel in Europe.
Why not take ferries across Europe?
If you’re planning on taking your car or just want to leave out chunks of Europe in your trip. If you don’t want to ‘waste your time’ in countries you're not that bothered about or you’ve already visited them and now it’s time to see something new, I think taking ferries are a good idea. Also, they’re quite cheap ! Now, let’s look at how ferry connected Europe is.
You can take multiple ferries from cities in the UK. One popular route is from Newcastle to Amsterdam. I am a Latvian living in the North East of England and it seems like everyone around me has been to Amsterdam. It’s an overnight ferry and usually takes up to 15 hours. The great thing about traveling with DFDS ferries from Newcastle to Amsterdam is - there are no baggage restrictions, pets are allowed, meals inclusive, and it’s starting price is only 36£ per person ! You can also travel with your bike, motorcycle, motorhome or just you ! The only thing is - if you get sea sick when on boats, this trip might not be super pleasant. It’s so windy in this region, waves of the North Sea can be brutal. So, if you’re planning on doing this trip, be prepared...especially if the weather is terrible. However, it’s great if you want to get from point A to point B in a relatively short time, just chilling on a ferry.
You can also travel to France from Dover to Calais, Dunkirk, and Dieppe. Dover is quite close to Northern France, the trip will take around 90 mins, however it is more expensive. It’s starting price is at 68£ per person, but since it’s so easy to travel from Dover to France through the English Channel or Le Manche, I personally would recommend doing that.
Island Hopping in Greece
Blue Star Ferries operate to and from loads of Greek islands like Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes, Leros and more. Needless to say these ferry rides will be absolutely gorgeous ! The cool thing is, depending on where you’re going of course, you can take as little as 20 mins to get from one island to another, or be on a ferry for as long as 21 hours as well. Now, if you love island hopping - Greece is the place to be.
The Copenhagen - Oslo ferry crossing is really popular, because of how absolutely stunning the views are, and it’s not a crazy long trip either. Obviously, it’s not like being on a nordic cruise and seeing the fjords, but you can still see beautiful sunsets and cool little islands along the way. The trip takes around 8 hours, and you’ll sail overnight, however because you’ll be spending the evening on board, you’ll still get to experience the sunset and everything around you next morning ! Furthermore, who wouldn't want their only evening on the ferry to be enjoyed with a live onboard entertainment. The starting price for one person is 79£, which isn’t too awful. If you wish, book a room with a sea view, but obviously that will cost more. Scandinavia is without a doubt worth exploring with a car ! Obviously, if you just want to take a look around Oslo or Copenhagen you don’t need a vehicle as they are very big and well connected cities, however, if you are planning on exploring - drive. You can also take a ferry from Copenhagen to Frederikshavn, which is a Danish city in the North of Denmark. It’s actually a really pretty seaside town, with lots of art galleries.Then from there you can travel to Gothenburg in Sweden. It’s actually a really quick trip from Frederikshavn to Gothenburg, one of Sweden's largest cities, takes only 3 and a half hours ! Also, there are up to 7 ferries running per day with DFDS, and 3 with StenaLine, so don’t worry if you miss one ! If you are travelling without a vehicle the price for this ferry ride is only 13£ per person, which I think is amazing. If you do wish to travel with a car, caravan or bike, the price will obviously be higher, but it will be around 80£, which isn’t too bad !
I would recommend a slightly different route, which is absolutely breath-taking. Ever watched the TV show Vikings and thought: “ wow, it must be breath-taking to cruise through the fjords like that” ? I have. Take a ferry from Gudvangen to Kaupanger in Norway. The views are incredibly picturesque and there will be quite a few waterfalls along the way too ! The thing is, yes it will be more expensive and yes, it would take an hour less if you’d just drive, but the ferry only takes two and a half hours and i mean, again...the views. The feeling of being completely surrounded by majestic fjords and waterfalls is just simply amazing. Most people do a whole cruise through the fjords, but this is also an option if you aren’t a big fan of cruises.
I mean...can you think of a more beautiful ferry ride? Not only that, but if you travel from Italy to Greece or Greece to Italy with a ferry, just think of how easy your travels are going to be. You would pass quite a lot of countries in the Balkans, saving time and money and all the stress of travelling with a car, train or a bus in a region that is not particularly easy to travel within. There are various routes you can choose from, travel from Venice or Ancona in Northern Italy to Patras, Piraeus and even Heraklion in Crete ! You can book a seat or a room - depends on you. A seat will be around 40£ and a double room around 85£, however, these are just base prices. Most popular ferry line is the Minoan ferries or Superfast ferries for this route.
You can also travel from Naples if you’re in Southern Italy. However, the SNAV ferries from Naples will take you to Croatia, not Greece. It’s still really cool because you can pick from around 15 destinations to travel to Croatia.
The Baltics, as you can imagine, are very ferry connected to the rest of Europe, because of the Baltic Sea. If you’re in the Baltics, you can visit several countries in Scandinavia and Western Europe. You can actually take a ferry from Stockholm to Riga, the capital of Latvia. A lot of Latvians as well as Lithuanians take the opportunity to take a ferry to Stockholm. It’s a bit of a booze cruise to be honest. Don’t get me wrong, it is still family friendly, I remember being a very happy 7 year-old in the playground on the ship. However, you also have to count on people getting really wasted and trying to get with each other on this ferry trip. The price range is from 20£ to 280£ and you can also bring your own vehicle. You have to travel with Tallink and their price is a round trip price, so you would be getting on the ferry at 17:30 on your first day, spend a day in Stockholm and then on the third day you’d be coming back to Riga. Obviously, you don’t have to come back if you don’t want to but most people choose this ferry for this kind of a trip, but you can also just stay in Stockholm. The same trip is available from Tallinn too! The trip from Tallinn will be slightly shorter and will take around 16 hours, but from Riga - 18 hours. You can also take a ferry from Riga or Tallinn to Helsinki, but keep in mind that the trip from Tallinn to Helsinki will be significantly shorter than the one from Riga. Actually, many people use it to commute to work. It takes around 2 hours and as far as I remember it, it was very enjoyable and relaxing. Again, super cheap, just 12£ per person and around 80£ with a vehicle.
There are also ways of getting to Germany from Lithuania and the other way around. Travel to or from Lithuania’s seaside town of Klaipeda which is actually known for its Delfinarium and Dinosaur Park, it has three ferry routes to offer if you’re interested in going to Travemunde, Kiel and Rostock, and the other way around. These trips are more on the pricier side, but if you want to save time, this is the best way to go. It takes 20 hours, but there’s plenty to do on the ferry !
I personally think this must be one of the most interesting ferry rides you can take. The Balearia ferry will take you not only from Barcelona, Valencia, Malaga, Gibraltar to Spain's party destinations like Ibiza and Mallorca, it’ll also take you to Tangier in Morocco ! Then, from Tangier it’s easy to drive to Marrakech, Casablanca and Rabat, but if you wish to travel to Algeria or Tunisia, pick the ferry that goes to Nador. Because there are seven different ferry companies that offer these routes, prices differ, but the facilities and services are pretty much the same. Furthermore, since there are 72 (!!!) ferries that cross the Strait of Gibraltar and Alboran Sea each day, pick the one that suits your location and that isn’t too crowded. Also, definitely travel with a car, your life will be so much easier.